Creating an Ergonomic Workspace

Once Upon A Time…

In high school, I fell head-first off of a jumping horse. My helmet, (arguably gave me more damage by digging into the dirt) stopped the momentum of my body with my head alone. Although, I was able to walk away, I had severe headaches for weeks following the incident. My frontal-lobe was continuously throbbing, I had difficulty putting together a sentence, or thought. That’s when I found NUCCA chiropractic. (Another story for another time). After getting my head back on straight, my headaches went away. My focus was clearer than it ever was, I felt great.

Then I started working… and I started having new pains in my back, shoulders and neck. Even my hands were giving me trouble, going numb throughout the day.

The Problem

Majority of the office furniture is built with the average body type in mind. Welllllll…we’re not all average size. Surprise, I know. 😉 Some of us are short, some are tall, some are thin, some are larger, and some of us are disabled. Obviously there’s more here, but you get the gist. So because, we’re forced to use this random office furniture, our bodies aren’t at the optimal position to avoid workplace-injury (read: body pains).

Additionally – the population is experiencing what scientists are calling “text-neck”, an un-natural positioning of the head, which then causes tension throughout your back.

Text-neck Explained:

 

The Solution

Disclaimer: I’m not a chiropractor, but I highly suggest you talk with yours for more information on the type of work-desk situation would be best for you.

Ergonomics is by definition, the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment. The goal is to sit at your desk, with your feet flat on the floor. Your back pressed against the back of your chair in a straight-ish position. Your desk should be at or just below your naval, while your arms are at a 90 degree angle with your elbows at your side. The center of your monitor should be eye level.

There are plenty of high-cost ergonomic furniture out there, but there are cheaper ways to go about it. Get creative.. (cardboard boxes make a great standing desk).

  • Get a monitor stand if you’re looking down at your monitor. I recommend an adjustable stand, higher the better. My stand is 4″ high. I believe looking up is better than looking down, less pressure on your head. But, don’t quote me on that.
  • Find a keyboard that allows you to keep your wrists flat. For me this was using an external mac keyboard over the laptop keyboard, the rise of the laptop was too much for my wrists. We’re coding alllll day, we need to take care of our hands!
  • Try out chairs around your office and try to find one that fits you. Can you adjust the arm rests? Can you adjust the seat height? Can you adjust the back angle? You might have to settle for what’s available. But using cushions/pillows from home you can hopefully achieve what you need to.
  • Get your feet flat on the floor. If you need to use a box, so be it. If you want to invest in a foot-stand, go for it.
  • Adjust your desk to be the right height, about belly-button level. But your arms should comfortably rest on it while elbows are at your side.
  • Standing desks are easy to slouch at – or lean on, so make sure to keep your upper body straight and monitor at the right level to avoid different pains.

Hopefully you can get away with some of these to help your back-health before the cube-police come after you, but these things have helped my focus and productivity so much, I had to share. 🙂

What are some of the workspace hacks you’ve built or done?

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About the author : Kim

Kim Arnett is an iOS Developer at DXC Technology. She enjoys watching her creations work wonders while making a positive impact on the population. She’s interested in technology, feminism, mental health, and Iron Man. Current side project includes learning robotics.